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Mary E Lacey, Desertrat

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The Trap Door (Part II)
By Mary E Lacey, Desertrat
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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This is the second part of my first mystery story. It will not make sense unless you have read the first part. The story takes place in the 1960s.

 

Chapter II -   The Trap Door (Part II)
                          Searching for Answers
 
      I rattled around my apartment thinking of all that happened today.    It was almost bedtime, but how could I sleep?   I had just been trapped in an abandoned basement for hours. And my mother, what was her problem. What happened there? Could it be as awful as Mom made it to be? After all, she did have a habit of exaggerating.
      First things first, grab a shower, and fix my knee. It was a minor cut but still hurt like hell.    I began to take my clothes off and noticed something on the back of my blouse. Great, clumsy me, it looked like mud or something.   It was probably some nasty thing from that cellar. No, at closer glance, it was sort of dried blood! How on earth? This day was full of surprises and not good ones.   Before I got in the shower, I sat on my bed and began daydreaming. I needed to know what happened. Where would I start? I certainly couldn’t ask any of my family members and they would be the only people that knew.
    Mechanically, I stepped into the shower. The warm water felt good, and also to get this filth off of me. It was so scary; I could have caught some disease. I started thinking about my dilemma again. How could I find out what happened? Of course! How could I have been so stupid? Bessie! She was grandfather’s maid for years, even when Grandma was alive.    Mom said she was her “Mammy”.   That was in the 40s. What a disgusting thing to call someone.    I hated that word, even thought today it was still a common one. I thought about Martin Luther King, Jr, and wondered if he could change things.  My thinking seemed to be ahead of its time.  Maybe one day what he believed in would come true , but not these turbulent 60s.  I loved my Grandpa but he had one flaw. He was one of the worst bigots. “Black people are fine, just so they know their place”   Mom often echoed this sentiment. But Bessie was one of the “good ones.” Mom and I always had arguments over this, but she’d tell me that was just the order of things. Ironically, Mom’s ideas to some other people were considered liberal.   So you can imagine what they thought of me.
      I got a good night’s sleep, and set out the next morning to go to Bessie’s. That wasn’t so easy. She lived in a rundown neighborhood.  Children were dirty running barefoot in what supposedly was a street. It was actually just an unpaved road.   They all looked terrible undernourished. They called it Shanty town. I wondered if Grandpa knew the conditions she lived in. I’m sure he didn’t. Or if he did, he’d say that was normal for those people.
      It was a long walk, but I decided it would be safer than taking my car into that neighborhood. I had been to Bessie’s before. Once I bought some food when her sister died. Oh, the looks I got! What was that white woman doing here?   There were stares all around. I felt I was on public display. But later, I would go there to take messages or bring things. Her children accepted me, so I suppose everyone else did. After all, if it weren’t for my grandfather, she wouldn’t have a job or be able to feed her family. She always talked of what a wonderful man, “Mista Gordon were”   I went to her house and up the rotting porch steps.   There sat an elderly woman with her gray hair tied in a knot at the back of her head. She was sitting in an old rocking chair that looked like it had seen better days.  She was rather thin, and wearing an old worn paisley house dress. She had a bowl of green beans she was snapping. This was Bessie’s mother.
     “Is Bessie here, Mrs. Davis?”
     “Howdy, Miss Mary, naw, Bessie ain’t here rih’t now” She be lookin’ fo a new job. Things they be har’d since Mr. Gordon went to his maker.   Aw, Miss Mary, I’m so sorry about you Grandpappy. Bessie say he were a wonde’ful man.   Have you a sit in that chai’ over yonder”
     I sat on the ragged, rusty straight back chair and began helping Mrs. Davis snap beans. It made me feel good keeping my hands busy and I knew the old woman could use my help. Her hands were worn and wrinkled from arthritis. After all, the woman was over 90 years old.
   “Miss Mary, you got no call to be doin’ that. “
    “No, Mrs. Davis, please let me help. It makes me feel good to be busy.”
    “Well, chil’, I guess that be okay, good Lawd say idle hands be the devil’ work.”
    I sat quietly and looked at the deplorable conditions of the neighborhood. How could people live like this, and why is our government not doing anything about it Stupid though.
    “Chil, what bring you here anyway?” You wanted to see my daughta' about somethin’?
      I thought before I answered. Could Bessie’s mother know anything about this secret?  Would I be too bold to ask her?   What if she didn’t know?
    “Speak, chil’!"
     “Mrs. Davis, you may think me crazy, but did Bessie every mention anything about the cellar in my Grandpa’s house?”
    The look on her face was hard to explain. It looked as though someone had hit her on the head and she was comatose.
   “Mrs. Davis, are you okay? I hope I didn’t say something out of line.”
   “Chil’ how you learn about that cella’?”
   “So you do know about it! What’s the big secret anyway?   You’d think someone was killed down there!”
    In almost a whisper, she gulped and said,
   “Dey was.   Oh, Miss Mary, dis be none of my bu’ness, why you aks such a thing? You should leave skeletons buried where dey belong!"
    I was in shock now, but not really. What else could it have been? But what were the circumstances and why was it covered up? Just when I got one answer, so many more popped up. And now Mrs. Davis sounded like my mother.
   “Does Bessie know?”
   “Yeah, she know,   Why you keep aksin’ so many tings?
    She set down the pan of green beans and started to walk towards the door.
    “Mrs. Davis, I’m sorry, but please don’t leave. How long is this secret going to be unknown?”
   “Chil’, they done been punished, mo’ than you know. Leave it be!”
    “Mrs. Davis, yesterday I fell through a trap door in the bottom of that cellar. There was also a confederate soldier’s uniform down there.    If no one tells me anything, I’ll call the police.  After all, if there was a murder down there, shouldn't they know?"
     I was bluffing of course, I had no such intention, but I had to know.   I hated putting Mrs. Davis in this spot, but besides my own tight lipped family, it seemed she was the only one that knew the truth.
    She turned and looked right through me.   Once more she started to whisper.
    “You been in tha’ cellar? You seen all dem things? Why that cella’ be locked for over a huner year!
    I was flabbergasted. 100 years!! No wonder the lock was so rusted and corroded. Actually, if it was that old, it would be impossible to open. Mrs. Davis read my mind.
   “They change it one time 50 year ago, because it startin’ to fall off."
   “Mrs. Davis, if the house is over 100 years old, how do you know so much about it?"
    “It be built befo’ the civil war, bout 1850 o’ maybe afore. I know it be older than me. My Daddy was a slave when it wa’ built.  I wasn't born yet, but Daddy, he tell me..neve' mine"
    Things kept getting stranger. I knew the house was old, I thought perhaps World War I. That’s what Grandpa always talked about.    He made such a fuss about people not making sturdy houses like they used to.   Yes, it was old, but some parts had obviously been refurbished.   I guess the one thing they didn’t redo was the cellar! But what did Mrs. Davis’ father have to do with anything? I started to asked but before I could say anything, Mrs. Davis seemed to read my mind again.
   “Miss Mary?”
   “Yes?
   “You really want to know ‘bout this perty bad?
   “Very much so”
   Mrs. Davis sighed. 
   “I be close to a hunded year ol’.   My fambly have a lot to do with that nasty cellar.   So if they gonna kill me fo’ tellin’ the story, at least I kin go to my Jesus with a clean heart and min’.”
   “So Miss Mary, this how it be…..
 
                          Mary E. Lacey
                                2009
 
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Reviewed by Jerry Bolton 2/10/2010
Nice work again, Mary, I am impressed. You have an interested tale going and you know when to stop it at the right moment to keep the reader yearning for more. Yes. this is delightfully (or sinfully) good.
Reviewed by Rose Rideout 2/10/2010
You just keep us wanting more Mary, Keep the fingers moving.

Newfie Hugs, Rose
Reviewed by Swan Son 2/10/2010
Mary -- you have me sitting on the end of my seat .... great story telling. I received the invitation to read Part I today and then saw Part II was already added. When will Part III be added?
You seem to have captured the conversation between yourself and Bessie's mother so well. I feel as if I have heard her voice myself.
Thanks for sending. Susan
Reviewed by Jon Willey 2/10/2010
Mary, this is a marvelous story -- you've done an outstanding job here -- peace and love my friend -- JM




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